If someone offers you a great deal on a vial of COVID-19 vaccine, call the cops.
Officials are warning Peninsula residents to be on the lookout for COVID-19 vaccine scams after shot vials were recently stolen from a Purdy dentist’s office.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department put out an alert on social media Saturday morning that 100 vials of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine had been stolen overnight Thursday or early Friday morning from a Purdy dental office. Dentists are among medical professionals authorized to administer the vaccine.
More than $100,000 in medical equipment and a vial of Botox also was stolen, according to the department.
The burglary was part of a rash of such incidents in the Purdy area in recent days. On Wednesday, burglars broke through the wall of a beauty salon and stole all of the salon’s products, hairstyling tools and even the towels, the owner told sheriff’s deputies. In a social media post, the owner estimated her loss at $50,000.
Similar break-ins have occurred at homes on Fox Island and in Vaughn and Longbranch on the Key Peninsula. In one home burglary, six guns were taken.
COVID-19 vaccines, currently available at retail pharmacies, stand-up clinics, medical offices and hospitals, as well as the Tacoma Dome, among other sites, are always offered at no cost as part of the current nationwide vaccination effort.
The federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to anyone living in the United States, regardless of immigration or health insurance status.
As a way to broaden distribution to reach more people, qualified providers who enroll in the federal vaccine distribution program via the state Department of Health can offer the vaccine. This includes dentists.
The sheriff’s department, in its announcement, said: “We want you to be cautious if you come across someone who offers you a vaccine outside of official vaccination events, medical/dental offices or pharmacies. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department wants to remind you that COVID-19 vaccines are always free. Make sure you access vaccines through legitimate sources — healthcare providers, pharmacies, and Pierce County Department of Emergency Management and Health Department events.”
Locations for legitimate vaccine access can be found at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture or the county’s FindYourCovidShot.com. Locations of individual vaccine sites also can be found on the state’s vaccine finder: vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov.
Law enforcement is seeking information from the public about the theft. Tips can be submitted to Crime Stoppers by calling 800-222-TIPS or by using the P3 Tips app. You could receive a reward of up to $1,000.